Time Magazine wrote, ". . . Tai Chi is the perfect exercise . . ." While serving as the Tai Chi Expert at DrWeil.com, I learned that best selling author and acclaimed naturopathic physician, Andrew Weil, suggested that poor breathing habits are at the root of many of our health problems. This was exciting news to me, confirming what I'd spent a lifetime learning in my Qigong (Chi Kung) and Tai Chi education. Yet, Dr. Weil's insights helped me describe to people just why Tai Chi is the perfect exercise.
Qigong, pronounced chee-kung, literally means "breathing exercise." The more popular exercise of Tai Chi is a form of Qigong. Modern medical research is now revealing that Tai Chi & Qigong are powerful health sciences, as well as effective aerobic exercises.
Studies have shown that Tai Chi can lower high blood pressure, and profoundly boost aspects of the immune system, while improving balance and coordination far better than any other known exercise. Tai Chi can reduce or eliminate chronic pain or limited mobility, while lessening the incidence of anxiety, depression, or overall mood disturbance. Tai Chi is the lowest impact exercise there is, and has even been used by those with arthritis, yet as gentle as it is it burns about 280 calories per hour, and provides roughly the same cardiovascular benefits of moderate impact aerobics.
Sounds too good to be true doesn't it? But, it is true, and this is only scratching the surface of what Tai Chi offers our busy lives. Not only can Tai Chi do all these amazing things, but it is so multi-dimensional that it provides these healing results to all the systems of our mind, body, and spirit in a regimen that only takes less than 30 minutes a day, and can be done in office attire at work in an empty boardroom or stock room. Anywhere where you can have some time alone with a little space to be uninterrupted, making Tai Chi the exercise of the future.
A major fitness manufacturing association recently released a study that found Tai Chi was at the top of the growth charts for health & fitness exercises. For those who've learned to enjoy Tai Chi and Qigong's gentle workouts, this is no surprise, as they've seen their outlook improve, and an increased sense of well-being in their lives. Many notice improved sleep, reduced allergy symptoms and lessened asthma symptoms over the years as they practice Tai Chi & Qigong as well. How does Tai Chi do all of this?
Tai Chi is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM. TCM has evolved over thousands of years of medical research in China, and evolved a system to understand how the Qi, or life energy, moves through the mind and body to support all the health systems, mental, emotional, physical, and spritual. When energy is blocked, mainly by unmanaged stress, our health diminishes. What's fascinating is that modern Western medicine is now beginning to validate the insights of TCM. Kaiser Permanente's twenty-year study finding that 70 to 85% of their patient's illnesses sending them to their doctors were caused by stress, absolutely validate TCM's understanding of our health.
Tai Chi's gentle movements, breathing techniques, and visualization techniques combine to massage the accumulated stress loads out of our 50 trillion cells in our body. The result is to cultivate a newness of being each time we "play" Tai Chi. The Chinese don't speak of "work-outs," but rather "play" Tai Chi. If you can play yourself into a whole new life, a healthy, and happy, and hopeful one . . . why wait?
By Bill Douglas
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